Sarah Brodsky

Here's a letter about vouchers and public schools in the Post-Dispatch:

Public schools are vital if we are to remain a democratic society. Vouchers will lead to stratification and segregation based on wealth, religion, culture, race or ability.

Which private schools will accept and keep underachieving, disadvantaged poor children who exhibit significant behavioral problems? Where will these children go to school? They will be "educated" in an under-supported public system drained of its resources by vouchers.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Private schools like Loyola Academy are doing a great job right now with disadvantaged kids that the public schools weren't helping. And the current system, which assigns kids to schools by neighborhood, does much more to segregate kids than a voucher system would.

Graduates of public schools have benefited from getting to know and working with students of varied backgrounds, resources, abilities and cultures. They are more likely to support and be accountable to the public good.

Vouchers will leave many kids behind, lead to stratification of the haves and have-nots, lead to a system that educates some students for success and leaves others with low-level options and lead to schools that reflect only one belief system without the benefit of multiple voices or perspectives.

Since when do graduates need to be accountable to the public good? Also, that description of a voucher system sounds a lot like our current public school system to me. Students in Ladue are "educated for success" while students in the city are shortchanged. And the public schools rarely allow multiple voices. For example, you can read a heated debate about how to teach sex ed in the public schools (link found via John Combest). Presumably sex ed is not the most important part of the school day, but it still generates this high-profile debate because public schools impose one perspective on everyone. With vouchers, parents can choose schools that will present the information they want their kids to hear. My personal experience is that private schools are much better at allowing diverse viewpoints than public schools are. So the sex ed I was taught in a religious private school talked about both abstinence and protection, even though 99.9 percent of the kids there were going to be practicing abstinence anyway. None of the parents wrote angry letters to the Post-Dispatch about it.

The remedy to poor quality schools is not vouchers. The remedy is equitable education for all. It takes people of moral character to stand up and say that more resources need to go to disadvantaged students.

Will even more resources lead to "equitable education"? Maybe if we people of moral character stand up, click our ruby slippers together, and say, "There's no place like the public schools."

About the Author

Sarah Brodsky

Sarah Brodsky